Bob Clark gave us A Christmas Story, yet his main body of work lies in the horror movie genre. Deathdream is a really good horror movie that reminds us to be careful what you wish for. It just might come true and make things worse. Much worse. Lynn Carlin is fantastic as Christine, a mother who wishes for her son Andy (Richard Backus in a freaky and creepy performance) to come home from the Vietnam War. He was reportedly killed, and yet one night he shows up, to the amazement of his mother, father (John Marley) and sister (Anya Ormsby) who all thought he was dead.
They choose to ignore the fact that he’s home, although his father starts to notice that Andy is well, different. A lot different! What occurs next is a series of brutal murders and the realization that while Andy is still walking, he’s not exactly human anymore. That’s for sure in what reminds me not only of The Monkey’s Paw (the inspiration for the flick) but also Stephen King tales as well.
I’m not sure if Andy is a zombie or a vampire, yet the scenes where he attacks people to drink their blood are pretty suspenseful and freaky. Clark made a low budget movie that is still well put together anyways, and he focuses on the negative impacts of the Vietnam War upon a local community literally less than a year after the US pulled out of the conflict. I do wish the movie had lingered on those aspects a bit more, yet Deathdream is a really effective drama horror movie that did burrow itself into my brain a little. Viewed thanks to Tubi, and a reminder that the 1970s had some of the best horror the genre had to offer.
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